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Friday, July 1, 2022

Opinion

School goes trigger happy with punishment for students expelled for playing with toy gun in their own yard


David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

No need to beat around the bush: the world is completely different than it was 10 years ago. We live in a current state of paranoia where people are constantly trying to prevent the next tragedy from happening. Everyone is trying to be cautious and remain aware of their surroundings to prevent something bad from happening — and for good reason.

The nation is still understandably shaken from the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School almost a year ago. It can go completely unsaid that we never want to hear about something like this happening again, but there have been some recent attempts to prevent similar tragedies that might be a little too extreme.

Last month, seventh-grade students Khalid Caraballo, Aiden Clark and an unidentified student from Virginia Beach, Va., were expelled for the remainder of the school year after being spotted with an air soft gun. Now this would be completely understandable if it weren’t for the fact that the boys were spotted with the air soft gun on Caraballo’s front lawn — although there is a gray area concerning this case because Caraballo’s front yard was located 70 yards from a school bus stop.

A neighbor of Caraballo called the police after seeing Caraballo and Clark playing with the toy gun in the yard. She said she noticed that the gun was a fake and that the boys seemed to be shooting at a target in the tree, but it made her feel uncomfortable.

Junior accounting major Stephen Aguilar feels the school should not have intervened.

“I believe that the school is completely wrong. True, young boys shouldn’t play with stuff like that, but they didn’t bring it to school and shoot it at students and teachers; it didn’t happen on school property,” Aguilar said.

“So the only reason they seem to have for expelling them is that they seem to be bad kids. It’s a school’s job to show kids how to properly act in society, not cast them aside at the first sign of trouble.”

The question of this story is one of who should be doing the reprimanding. It is said that the boys were shooting the pellets at each other and three other children who were in the yard. While I agree that the children should be punished for shooting off air soft guns in their front yard and running into the streets, I do not think they should be punished by the school district. The children were on private property and should be reprimanded by their parents.

Because of this incident, Caraballo is now concerned with how this might affect his future. According to an article from wavy.com, he is worried it’ll mess with his college future.

“It’s terrible. I won’t get the chance to go to a good college,” said Caraballo. “It’s on your school record. The school said I had possession of a firearm. They aren’t going to ask me any questions. They are going to think it was a real gun, and I was trying to hurt someone.”

In addition to this incident, there is the more recent case of 12-year-old Joseph Lyssikatos of Coventry, R.I., who was suspended for three days and banned from a school field trip when he was caught with a small metal keychain in the shape of a gun. The size of this afflicting object has been compared to that of a quarter — how frightening.

It is said that Lyssikatos was not even showing off this keychain; he was merely digging into his backpack when this small novelty item fell onto the floor. Another boy sitting near Lyssikatos then picked up the miniature fake firearm and caught the teacher’s attention when he displayed it to other students.

Senior communications major Corey Doiron partially agrees with the precautions the school took.

“Thinking about a firearm in this setting is disturbing to me,” said Dorion. “If I was a teacher and I saw a kid having a Glock on a keychain, I would get a little bit upset. I would talk to the parents about why it was upsetting and if it was a continual problem, I could see suspension.”

The last case of recent paranoid insanity is the case of eight-year-old Jordan Bennett from Harmony, Fla., who was suspended for using his index finger and thumb to form the shape of a gun on school grounds. Bennett is said to have been playing an innocent game of cops and robbers with his friends when he formed this hand gesture along with typical sound effects such as, “pew, pew.”

Parents always say how times are different from when they were growing up and we were growing up — well, now we know that things are very different from when we frolicked on the playground. I understand the state of panic, because honestly, it’s scary to think of the things that some people are capable of, but a balance needs to be found between preventing actual incidents and preventing thoughts of unreasonable fears creeping into people’s minds.

Opinion columnist Kelly Schafler is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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